The second climate forecast for the next decade has been published [Advancing decadal-scale climate prediction in the North Atlantic sector, Keenlyside et al, Nature, behind a firewall but available here], and the world’s media – and a fair number of blogs – have jumped all over its suggestion that there might be some regional cooling over the next decade. Richard Black at the BBC headlined his piece “Next decade ‘may see no warming'” , the New York Times‘ Andy Revkin settled for “In a New Climate Model, Short-Term Cooling in a Warmer World”, which becomes “Next decade may see no warming” at frogblog and “Global Warming on hold until 2015 claim Germans” at Kiwiblog. So what’s going on? Is global warming really on hold?
A new forecast for this summer’s Arctic sea ice melt suggests that there’s a 60% chance that this year’s minimum will set a new record. Work by researchers at the University of Colorado’s Center for Astrodynamics Research shows that the current ice is much thinner than usual:
“The current Arctic ice cover is thinner and younger than at any previous time in our recorded history, and this sets the stage for rapid melt and a new record low,” said Research Associate Sheldon Drobot, who leads CCAR’s Arctic Regional Ice Forecasting System group in CU-Boulder’s aerospace engineering sciences department. Overall, 63 percent of the Arctic ice cover is younger than average, and only 2 percent is older than average, according to Drobot.
The image above shows the age of the current ice cover compared to average for this time of year (you can click on the image to see a larger version). Yellow is the same as average, red is younger. For the bigger picture, visit the Arctic Ice Forecasting System pages at UC.
This has prompted me to increase my sea ice bet with William “Stoat” Connolley by Â£10 to Â£30 (plus a signed copy of Hot Topic). With the seasonal melt speeding up, the race is on…
[Hat-tip to Eli Rabett]
Hot Topic has devoted a lot of posts to events in the Arctic over the last northern hemisphere summer. The loss of sea ice was dramatic – there was 25% less ice in September than the previous record, set in 2005. The little graph to the left shows just far off the trend line last year’s September area really was. And as I posted yesterday, recent studies suggest that the Arctic is primed for more significant losses in the near future. If the reduction in summer sea ice continues, there are some pretty major implications for the climate of the northern hemisphere and for our modelling of the global climate, and it’s those things that I want to consider in this post. Please note: I am not a climate scientist, and there are a lot of ifs and handwaves in this argument, but bear with me…
James Lovelock is the man who invented earth system science – or to give it the name he got from William Golding (the Lord Of The Flies man), Gaia. Very influential, in other words, and one of the gloomiest prognosticators of mankind’s future in a world where Gaia bites back through climate change. Rolling Stone has an excellent long profile of Lovelock, which includes this gem about some temporary employment during the 1980s:
He supported himself in part as a consultant for MI5, England’s top counterintelligence agency, where he developed a method to monitor the movements of KGB spies in London by using an ECD [electron capture detector, a device invented by JL] to track their vehicles.
- The UN Environment Programme’s fourth Global Environment Outlook Report (GEO-4) makes gloomy reading. The Press puts it on the front page with the headline Man’s ‘very survival at risk’. [Herald, BBC, Telegraph [UK], full report PDF]. Our ecological overdraft is going to make Gaia unhappy…
- She’s not helping out with CO2 like she used to either. The amount of our CO2 emissions mopped up by natural emissions is declining – which threatens to speed up warming as carbon cycle feedbacks kick in, a new study [PDF] finds. [BBC, Herald, Times [UK], CSIRO, Rabett Run, Stoat]
[This post will be updated/extended when I stop feeling gloomy…]
I’m a sucker for pretty computer graphics, especially if they’re didactic. Today’s discovery is a superb Flash animation of the sea level history of Australia and New Guinea, lovingly prepared by Monash University‘s new SahulTime project [ABC coverage here]. From the web site:
The concept of SahulTime is similar to GoogleEarth, except that SahulTime extends each of GoogleEarth’s paradigms through a further dimension in time. Satellite-style images change to reflect coastlines, the icons are time-aware, and even photographs can can be taken through a timewarp to view reconstructed ancient landscapes.
You drag a pointer back along a profile of how sea level has changed over the last 100,000 years, and watch how Australia’s coastline changes, merging with New Guinea. Fantastic. Can we have one for New Zealand, please?
- Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth has been passed by a UK High Court judge as fit to be seen by UK schoolchildren, but only with changes to the accompanying teacher’s notes to clarify nine scientific â€œerrorsâ€. News media are buzzing: a few samples – Herald, BBC, and Guardian (UK). The BBC’s environment correspondent provides some context, and Stoat (aka climate scientist and ice gambler William Connolley) looks at how serious the mistakes really are. The right wing roots of the court case are explained by Oil Change International, and one of the â€œexpertâ€ witnesses looks like it might have been the NZ CSC’s own Bob Carter. Not surprising then that former ACT MP Muriel Newman’s NZ Centre for Policy Research site is all over the issue – though she manages to find two extra bonus â€œerrorsâ€ from somewhere. Read the judgement in full here. Real Climate’s original review supports the judge’s finding that AIT gets the basic science right.
- New Scientist reports on a Canadian study that finds that to keep global temperature under the EU’s target of 2C above pre-industrial levels, cuts of 90% of emissions will be needed by 2050, much deeper than the 50% reductions already promised.
- The new edition of popular computer game SimCity is to feature global warming, offering players high and low carbon energy options – sponsored by BP. A sign of the times….